Startseite / Agenda / Ansprache Ihrer Majestät der Königin - Philanthropy in Europe

Ansprache Ihrer Majestät der Königin - Philanthropy in Europe

12 Mai 2017

(Ansprache vorgetragen auf Englisch)

Ansprache Ihrer Majestät der Königin
Boost Philanthropy in Europe - Spring of Philanthropy
Concert Noble, Brussels, May 12, 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the years the world has become increasingly complex. A variety of major issues have emerged that require long-term solutions. As a result, philanthropy has become more and more important.

The Spring of Philanthropy, organised by the King Baudouin Foundation, can only strengthen a great and longstanding tradition. A tradition that advances humanity – both the benefactors and those they help. Your involvement, as philanthropists, is essential to create opportunities for everyone.

As Honorary President of the King Baudouin Foundation, I am delighted to open this conference. On the one hand, it marks the official closing of the Spring of Philanthropy in Belgium. But it is also the launch of an important new initiative at the European level. Ten prominent European philanthropic organisations have come together for an open dialogue on new practices and innovative ideas. The hopes and concerns of philanthropists in Europe will be high on the agenda. But this dialogue will not stop today; it is just the first step of an ongoing process.

I am impressed by the diversity of the participants here. You have come from all over Europe. In each of your countries, philanthropy needs expression locally, in grassroots projects, but also nationally and internationally, as today.

This conference is an important and timely initiative. Our society is rocked by problems, the size and complexity of which risk creating polarisation and insularity. The very notion of ‘living together’ is often called into question. In this context, the various actors in civil society have a key role to play, and the philanthropists among them are essential. The authors of today’s initiative are convinced of that.

The King Baudouin Foundation was one of the first to recognise the importance of philanthropy. It created its own Centre for Philanthropy almost fifteen years ago. The Centre’s mission is to support philanthropists, helping them to transform their initial enthusiasm into efficient and effective projects. The experience the Centre has acquired, in bringing these projects to a successful conclusion, has helped clarify the role of philanthropy in society. By being proactive and working with other bodies, philanthropists can alert government bodies and draw public attention to relatively unknown issues. The specific needs of children from less privileged or migrant backgrounds are an example of an issue that needs more attention.

This is precisely what the King Baudouin Foundation, in collaboration with 13 other foundations from Europe and the United States, set out to remedy. The result was the Transatlantic Forum on Inclusive Early Years. The forum has made it possible to inform policy makers about recent research and knowledge in this field.

Philanthropists can also conduct pilot studies, test innovative solutions, contribute to the financing of original research, and work on extremely complex questions. They have a vast range of approaches at their disposal, from the most classic aid to innovative forms of social investment. Young people bring their own drive and competences - particularly their digital skills - to a world where they would like to see more solidarity. Think of the many apps, created by young entrepreneurs in Belgium and the rest of Europe, which serve the public or stimulate their interest. Later on, in the session devoted to the diversity of philanthropy in Europe, you will learn more about MalariaSpot, an application that helps diagnose malaria.

Philanthropists, however, must be able to combine great ambition with great modesty. They must have the ambition to make a real impact, but the modesty to know that, without others, real change is likely to be very limited. Philanthropists must therefore also be good listeners and open-minded.

However good a strategy may be, success requires sharing good practices too. And this is what you will be doing throughout today’s sessions. We need good practices, from Europe and elsewhere, to open our minds. We can learn from each other, so that our shared ideas benefit not just the individual but also our societies.

I should like to end on a more personal note. For several years now, I have been actively involved in the fund bearing my name. The future of our young people, and especially that of vulnerable children, is a major concern for me. Supporting projects by and for young people has always been close to my heart. I am delighted to see how much enthusiasm and involvement there is among young people and volunteers to improve the situation of the vulnerable in our society. 

Short term charitable actions have their place. Our aim, however, is to provide individuals with lasting tools to increase their human dignity, tools to raise their social and economic levels. In short, we want to enable them to take control of their own lives.

So enjoy your discussions and learn from each other. I hope you will leave here full of new ideas and energy to boost philanthropy for the long-term benefit of humanity.

Thank you.